Dr. Mathew Mosher travels annually to Guatemala, leaving his successful plastic surgery practice in Vancouver to offer his plastic and reconstructive surgical skills to children and other rural residents with limited access to medical care.
Langley, British Columbia (July 2013) — Dr. Mathew Mosher of YES Medspa & Cosmetic Surgery Centre (www.yescosmeticsurgery.com) recently returned to his plastic surgery clinic near Vancouver after spending a week in Guatemala with 20 other volunteers representing Project H.A.N.D.S., providing medical services to impoverished residents with little access to healthcare.
“This was my 3rd volunteer surgical trip to Guatemala,” Dr. Mosher says, “so I felt more prepared for the severity of the surgical problems we might encounter, the limitations of the resources available, and the emotional impact of the patients’ stories.”
Dr. Mosher and the other members of the medical team performed elective and reconstructive surgeries during their trip, treating patients with congenital deformities, extensive burns or scars, and other medical conditions.
The impact of the Project H.A.N.D.S. (Helping And Nurturing Developing Societies) annual charity missions extends beyond the time that the doctors and nurses travel to the rugged, beautiful country, says Dr. Mosher, who is among the leading plastic surgeons in the Vancouver area. The group’s organizers have started an educational funding program for intelligent young Guatemalans who can not afford to pursue healthcare training. The first graduate nurse, Francisco finished his training this year and plans to work in rural Guatemala to improve women’s health. The Project H.A.N.D.S. team works along side Guatemalan Surgeons, Residents in training and local nurses to share ideas and techniques for managing these very challenging cases.
“Many of the patients we see have never been to a doctor,” Dr. Mosher says. “The distance they live from the nearest hospital often requires walking for hours to board a bus, which then takes up to 8 hours more to reach a doctor. By bringing a Plastic and Reconstructive surgery team to a clinic closer to that population, many more patients can be helped.”
Dr. Mosher says the mission also embraced the idea of using the trips as educational opportunities for future surgeons. A 3rd-year plastic surgery resident from the University of British Columbia joined the team for the first time on the most recent trip, Mosher notes. It’s an eye-opening experience for any surgeon accustomed to the resources of an operating room in a modern Vancouver facility for cosmetic surgery. He believes students will greatly benefit from the experience of practicing without access to advanced technology and use fundamental reconstructive surgery techniques that are seldom used when greater resources are available.
Each trip leaves him humbled, says Dr. Mosher, adding that there’s a common thread between the rural patients in Guatemala and people who want body contouring in Vancouver: “People want to feel good about themselves and appear normal, even if their circumstances are vastly different.”